Politicians from both Stormont and Westminster will ‘exchange notes’ on ways to tackle problem gambling as both parties look to toughen up gambling legislation.
The collaboration will see the All Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling at Stormont launch its inquiry into reforming ‘Northern Ireland’s obsolete gambling legislation’ which will hear evidence from Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of Westminster’s Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group (GRH APPG).
The Stormont APG Chair, Robbie Butler MLA, said: “From our perspective the timing could not be better. We’ve been in touch to exchange notes and we’ll be asking the Westminster chair Carolyn Harris MP to give evidence to our inquiry when it begins in the autumn.
“This is not about banning gambling; it is about protecting the vulnerable and making our laws fit for purpose. Our members are from across the political divide and there is a very strong sense of common purpose between us. Working with our peers at Westminster will bring obvious benefits to the inquiry.”
The Stormont inquiry is due to begin taking evidence in September. It follows the inquiry carried out by its Westminster counterpart which was published last week.
The hard-hitting report demanded a number of reforms to UK gambling, including an overhaul of the UK Gambling Commission, a total ban on gambling advertising, and tighter restrictions on stake and deposit limits.
Carolyn Harris MP added: “This multi-million pound industry has destroyed people’s lives. They have shown time and again that they will not effectively self-regulate. The Westminster APPG has set out over 30 recommendations to reform our online gambling industry and these changes cannot come soon enough. We are looking forward to sharing our experience of calling for gambling reform with Stormont colleagues and working together where we can in the coming weeks and months to make gambling safer, fairer and better regulated in both GB and NI.”
Philip McGuigan MLA, Vice Chair of the Stormont APG, concluded: “I’ve studied the Westminster report carefully and there is much in it that will help our members in our deliberations. Gambling harm is a major issue on this island and in Britain. It is important, therefore, that as we try to address that issue and modernise our legislation here in the North so that it is fit for purpose that we learn and share best practice with others.”